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SNES Games – Super Star Wars: Return of the Jedi

After a short break from the trilogy, I was looking forward to finally playing Super Star Wars: Return of the Jedi. I hate to sound negative, but this is the fourth Star Wars title that I’ve played in a row, and I just want to get it over with. Thankfully, I’m playing some really good games so I’m not as exhausted. And from what I heard, this game is as good as the others in the trilogy.

 

Return of the Jedi - title screen

Title screen for Super Star Wars: Return of the Jedi for the Super Nintendo Entertainment System.

 

Let’s talk about this game today!

 

Game Basics

Like the rest of the games in the Super Star Wars trilogy, Super Star Wars: Return of the Jedi is a run-and-gun action platformer that is based on the Star Wars original trilogy of films. This was developed by LucasArts and Sculptured Software and published by JVC on the Super Nintendo Entertainment System. And as can be expected, this game is based on Episode VI of the film franchise. The title is also quite long, so I’ll refer to this game as Super Return of the Jedi for the rest of this.

 

Return of the Jedi - Select Hero

Stages will over a different selection of heroes to choose from.

 

In addition to Luke Skywalker, Han Solo, and Chewbacca, the game also features Leia and the Ewok Wicket as playable characters. This game has sections where you can choose your character, and sections with a predetermined character. I understand why this was done. Referencing the film, some characters needed to go their own way and so you can’t play as other characters in that specific journey.

In this game, you have a health meter, as well as a number of lives and continues. When the health meter is completely depleted, you lose a life. You’ve got a total of four starting lives (your current and three extra). When you lose them all, you’ll need to consume a continue, of which you have three. This game retains the password system that was introduced in the second game, but you only get passwords on the Game Over screen. And there are still three levels of difficulty that you can choose from: Easy, Brave, and Jedi. I played this on Easy difficulty and the game generally was easy, but there were sections that remained very hard.

 

Moves and Abilities – the Gunners

Let’s talk about the heroes in Super Return of the Jedi. Generally, the D-Pad controls movement. All characters can crouch and jump. Double jumping is done by pressing the B button anytime in mid-air. Meanwhile, pressing Forward and B while crouching will let them do either a sliding or rolling move. For the “gunners”, the Y button is for shooting. Holding it down will make you continually shoot your blaster. You can aim your shots with the D-Pad, except downwards. For some reason, blaster upgrades no longer carry over to succeeding stages. The X button uses up a thermal detonator if you have one.

 

Return of the Jedi - Han Solo

Han Solo.

 

Han Solo has a rolling move that goes far, and his secondary attack makes him throw bombs. Unlike the previous game, he’s carrying a few bombs at the start of each stage already. He tosses these in an upward arc, so you can attack from behind cover. He no longer starts with an upgraded blaster though.

 

Return of the Jedi - Chewbacca

Chewbacca.

 

Chewbacca is still a bit slower than the others, but he makes up for it with a longer starting health meter. He also kept his spin attack, which hits enemies from either side. You can’t spin once your spin meter is depleted, but it recharges over time. What makes his spin vital is the invulnerability it gives you. This makes Chewie quite handy in boss fights and stages with lots of tough enemies.

 

Return of the Jedi - Wicket

Wicket.

 

Finally, there are two stages that feature Wicket. He fires arrows from his bow instead of a gun. Wicket doesn’t have a secondary attack, and he doesn’t get blaster upgrades. He does have the ability to grab onto posts. His arrows can stick to the sides of trees, which he can then jump on to launch himself upwards.

 

Moves and Abilities – The Skywalkers

Luke no longer uses a blaster in Super Return of the Jedi. His attacks with lightsaber swings and his double jumps trigger a spin attack by default. Pressing A makes him block with the lightsaber which deflects projectiles and renders attacks useless.

 

Return of the Jedi - Luke Skywalker

Luke’s spinning saber attack is still the best attack in the game.

 

Pressing Select switches Force powers, and pressing X will use it. Saber makes him toss his lightsaber, and you can control it with the D-Pad while the power is active. Deflect coats you with a force field that deflects projectiles. Freeze freezes all onscreen enemies for a few moments. Vanish makes Luke invisible, and Heal will refill his health a certain amount.

 

Return of the Jedi - Leia the Bounty Hunter

Leia in her bounty hunter guise.

 

Princess Leia is actually quite unique, in that she gets three different sprites with different moves. Her first version is when she is pretending to be a bounty hunter. She fights using a staff, which she also uses for her version of the spinning double jump attack. Her secondary attack is weird – she just holds her pose until you release the button, after which she makes her strike. I thought it was a blocking move at first but it wasn’t.

 

Return of the Jedi - Slave Leia

Leia in her slave outfit.

 

Her second version is when she was made into a slave by Jabba the Hutt. She uses her chains as a whip, and her spin attack looks like Chewie’s instead of Luke’s. She also spins like a top for her secondary attack, and she gets a spin meter too. So it works quite like Chewbacca’s.

 

Return of the Jedi - Rebel Leia

Rebel Alliance Leader Leia.

 

Her third and final version has her garbed in a Rebel Alliance uniform. She now uses a blaster in this version, and loses her spin attacks. Like Wicket, she doesn’t have a secondary attack.

 

Vehicle Stages

Following the tradition of the previous two games, Super Return of the Jedi also manages to include some vehicle stages at points when the story justifies it. In fact, the game begins with a short but frustrating landspeeder segment. I call this frustrating because there are large gaps all over that you can fall into, as well as obstacles on the road that you can bump into. It’s very easy for anyone to lose a life or two here.

 

Landspeeder Section

I lost all four of my lives in my first attempt of this section.

 

We also get a short speeder bike section, which reenacts that chase sequence from the film. Stormtroopers on their own bikes will attack you, and you can collide into them and make them crash into trees, or shoot at them when they’re in front of you. This can be tricky too. But thankfully, there are a lot of health refills in this stage.

 

Speeder Bike Chase

The speeder bike chase sequence.

 

Near the end of the game, however, are several Millenium Falcon sequences. Finally! Each one plays out differently, too. In the first sequence, you’re in control of the Falcon’s laser turrets. You’ll need to shoot down a certain number of TIE fighters so that you can advance to the new Death Star.

 

Return of the Jedi - Millenium Falcon 2

TIE fighters will attack you from all sides.

 

In the second, you’ll have full control of the Falcon as you fly across the outer surface of the Death Star. You still have to shoot down TIE fighters. This plays out like the X-Wing stages in the previous games.

 

Return of the Jedi - Millenium Falcon 1

Flying the Millenium Falcon!

 

Finally, the last Falcon sequences are in first person as you fly inside the Death Star to find it’s new weakness. And this is when we talk about the most frustrating part of the game.

 

Inside Death Star Hell

Super Return of the Jedi recreates the events involving the Millennium Falcon going into the new Death Star to find and attack it’s core. There’s an initial sequence where you have to deal with TIE fighters while avoiding crashing into walls.

 

VS Tie Fighters

You need to fight off these TIE fighters in order to make it to the end of the level.

 

This game has one sequence that almost ruins it for me. This involves the Millenium Falcon attempting to escape the Death Star as it begins to explode. This is also in first person perspective, and there are no enemies to fight. However, there is fire chasing after you so you need to keep moving forward. The B button is for speeding up, and you’ll need to have that held down for this entire sequence. If the fires catch up to you, you’ll constantly take damage.

 

Escaping the Death Star

This is the hardest sequence in the entire trilogy.

 

You can also take damage if you bump into walls or panels. Since you’re always sped up, it’s a bit hard to avoid any panels that suddenly appear. The stage also changes shape. The Millennium Falcon is a flat spacecraft, so you’ll need to rotate it in order to fit into sections that were flattened. There are no health refills during this sequence, so you really need to be close to perfection to make it out of the Death Star. And even on Easy, it took me multiple tries to get it done, even with the help of save states.

 

Battling the Bosses

I’ve accepted that Super Return of the Jedi won’t offer a lot in terms of named boss encounters, since the franchise itself doesn’t have a lot of them anyway. But I was still a little disappointed that we didn’t have a fight with Boba Fett. We do get to fight Jabba the Hutt and one of his bodyguards in a boss fight.

 

VS Darth Vader

We’ll need to defeat Darth Vader before we can face the Emperor.

 

We do get to fight Darth Vader, but he isn’t as difficult as he was in the previous game. I understand this; Luke Skywalker did get stronger, and Vader isn’t the final boss, anyway.

 

Return of the Jedi - Darth Sidious

We finally get the chance to defeat Darth Sidious.

 

Like the movie, we’ll need to face off Darth Sidious as Luke Skywalker. He shoots out Force Lightning and flies around constantly. It’s an exciting fight, but I did enjoy the fight against Vader in the previous game more.

 

Visuals, Sound, and Presentation

Like the other games in the trilogy, Super Return of the Jedi has really good 16-bit graphics. And I love how they kept updating the character sprites based what happened in the films. Luke now has a green lightsaber and he’s wearing dark garb. Han is back to his original uniform. And they even made three different, accurate representations of Leia! All the stages look great, and the visual effects that they use in the vehicle stages are still quite impressive.

 

VS Jabba the Hutt

You get to fight Jabba the Hutt in this game.

 

In terms of sound design, this game continues to be excellent. I’m a sucker for John Williams’ score and this game makes great use of the many Star Wars themes that are available. This game is such a pleasure to listen to, and each theme is appropriate to the action that is happening onscreen.

 

Return of the Jedi - cutscene

Seeing these scenes in the game makes me appreciate it a lot more.

 

The presentation of this game also remains to be really good. They  and continue to feature a lot of cutscenes that help tell the complete story of the film. I guess the only nitpick that I have is, this game looks like it’s predecessors and I don’t recall seeing anything new. But if it ain’t broke, why fix it, right?

 

Final Thoughts

Oh man. I want to say that I loved Super Return of the Jedi, but that final sequence really had me pulling my hair out. Escaping the Death Star was so hard, I almost accepted defeat. I didn’t give up and I eventually managed to beat it, but I’m not sure if I want to go through that again. And it’s such a shame that this game’s final moment, which essentially is the trilogy’s final sequence, is so frustrating. Because that’s really my final memory of this experience. I’m someone who really needs to beat video games, so any unreasonable challenges really turn me off.

However, this game is still really good. Thank goodness that this is the final sequence, because that means you’ll be able to play through almost the entirety of the game. You won’t be locked out of any significant parts, except the ending. Escaping the Death Star isn’t impossible, but not being able to do it hopefully shouldn’t deter you from playing this game. Especially if you’re a Star Wars fan.

 

If you want to check out the other Star Wars video games that I played and wrote about, click here! Or click here to check out every Super NES video game that I’ve played!

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